Friday, January 28, 2011

Oh what a day...

I need a little friendly advise, oh mighty blogosphere...

I had several...situations, we'll call them, arise this morning. All in all, it was a pretty good morning. I got some incredibly good feed back from a no nonsense, call it like it is, New Yorker professor, I nailed my lesson this morning, and I looked great when I ran into someone I haven't seen since high school. The balance of the day was great but...yeah.

I've posted previously about my program and some of the attitudes and people in the program. I struggle with this new cohort. A lot. There is a general attitude of pretentiousness and bitterness. On more than one occasion comments have been made that were insensitive and borderline offensive. There is a general attitude of self righteous arrogance. Most of it is directed towards the LDS Church and the resulting dominant culture. But there have also been comments made about Special Education students and culturally and linguistically diverse populations. It's been enough to get my blood boiling on more than one occasion or a frustration headache at their general insensitivity and sometimes blatant ignorance.

Today it reached new levels. I am actually considering going to the professor in question as well as the director of the program. We were presenting mini snippets of lessons just to have a sort of dry run before we get to the actual classrooms. Situation one. This girl is not my cup of tea. She's from Park City, drives an Audie her father bought for her. She giggles and laughs her way through difficult situations and hardly ever has anything constructive to contribute to any discussion. We were the first to arrive this morning and I'm getting ready for my lesson. She told me she is currently teaching at Park City High and an English TA had prepared a PowerPoint on Shakespeare that she decided to use for her assignment in this class. Through out the presentation it became blatantly obvious that she had not put the PowerPoint together and, most likely, had not even looked through it before getting up to present. Now, the lovely roommie told me that I should say something to the professor since Park City had no qualms telling me it wasn't her work. Part of me wants to but the other part feels bad...thoughts?

NOW...this one is a real winner. This particular student, lets call him Big Mouth Bass (BMB for short) has never been my favorite person and I rarely, if ever, agree with any statement that comes out of his mouth. Add in an obnoxious nickname that he insists going by and it's a win/win situation all around. During the course of his lesson on the Massacre of Wounded Knee and the Ghost Dance BMB referenced something incredibly sacred and personal to me, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in a way that made it blatantly apparent he had no understanding or respect for what he was so casually discussing. I almost walked out of the room I was so offended. After his presentation the professor told him, he can't go there...ever. I almost said something at that point. Everyone in the class knows I'm LDS and they kept looking at me, as I was clearly upset. I was on the verge of saying something but didn't in the end because if I had it probably wouldn't have been very constructive and probably would have done more damage that good.

BMB has always had an attitude when it comes to members of the LDS Church. I don't know what his history is with the Church but it's apparent that something has happened. He is constantly making thinly veiled comments about the culture and the conservative values shared by most Latter Day Saints. I haven't gotten too up in arms and I've tried not to get too offended. For most people, it's just ignorance but BMB seems to take pleasure in saying some of these things and takes every opportunity to do so. He even went so far as to say it is the "conservative culture" (aka the influence of Mormons) that is causing Utah's rising high school drop out rate. (completely and utterly false. there are a multitude of reasons that will affect the drop out rate. conservatism, isn't really high on that list - but that will be saved for another time). He seems to think that conservative people of faith, members of the LDS church in particular, are simply brainwashed sheep that can't think for themselves. He has no respect for our beliefs or our ability to make our own decisions.He made a comment today in class to the effect of he needs to "dumb himself down" to teach 7th grade - an incredibly worrying attitude to have going into the teaching profession.

Here's my major concern, aside from being incredibly offended by this incident, BMB is going to be teaching many, many students that are LDS. He is going to be in a position of authority over these students. If he can't respect their belief system and if can't treat them with dignity, should he be teaching them at all? I have a serious concern about him in a classroom full of impressionable kids. I am 26, almost 27 years old. I can separate myself and my beliefs from the insensitive, inappropriate and often times, offensive comments he makes. But will a 12 year old be able to do that? He didn't even realize that what he had done was problematic. He won't mention that particular aspect of the LDS faith again but what off hand comments will he make in class? He didn't see how what he had said was different from teaching Utah History. Students will pick up on that. If he can't put his own prejudice aside, should he be in a classroom in an environment where many, if not most, of his students will be of the LDS faith? I'm not saying that's good or bad, I'm simply stating the reality of the demographics of Utah public schools in most, not all, areas. I do know one thing, I wouldn't want my hypothetical child or any of my nieces or nephews in his classroom.

So here's my question(s) I tell my professor about Park City and her PowerPoint?

What do I do about Big Mouth Bass? I need to go talk to my professor about something else, anyway. I may simply thank her for what she said to him and possibly mention my concerns. What do you all think? Should I say something or just let it go?


jm said...

I think you should bust Park City, kids deserve teachers who are willing to put in the work. As fro BMB, I don't really know but good luck!

Annie Get Your Camera said...

I agree about busting the cheater. She'll just think she can continue to get away with it.

As for BMB... it's tough. He obviously isn't going to change and I don't think that anything you say to him will make him think differently. But at the same time I think you need to let him know when he's in the wrong and walking out (at least without saying anything) will just make him think he's wrong. I don't know, that's tough.

Annie Get Your Camera said...

What I meant to say was, walking out will just make him think he can keep on saying those things.

My brain no longer works.

Heidi said...

You should definitely let the professor know about Park City. As for the jerk, if I was in your position, I would definitely mention your concerns and discomfort to the professor/dean. I don't know about confronting him directly, feeding that dragon I'm afraid would only make it worse.

Ugh, I would really like to just deck him. What a jerk.


Jannifer said...

Wow, sounds like you have to deal with a tough group. I agree with the other comments, the cheater deserves to be called out.

As for BMB, that is kind of tough. He is probably making the comments to get a reaction. Going to your professor to thank her does sound reasonable though. In my opinion, if he makes comments like that in his class and some LDS parent catches wind of it, he is going to have parents of students complain and come down on him pretty fast. Anyway, good luck!